The 8 Best Rail Trails in the U.S.

Ever dreamt of embarking on an adventure where the trail tells a story as captivating as the landscapes it traverses? Rail trails in the U.S. offer just that – a unique blend of history, nature, and the sheer joy of exploring on foot, bike, or even on horseback. These trails, once railway lines, have been transformed into pathways that provide an accessible slice of adventure for all. Let’s pedal and stroll through the 8 best rail trails the U.S. has to offer, each promising an unforgettable journey.

1. The Katy Trail, Missouri

Katy Trail State Park | Missouri Trails | TrailLink

Stretching over 240 miles, the Katy Trail holds the title as the longest developed rail-trail in the country. Following the Missouri River for much of its route, it offers breathtaking views and a flat path that makes it perfect for cyclists of all levels. Picture yourself cycling through quaint small towns, wine country, and alongside towering bluffs. It’s not just a trail; it’s a journey through the heart of Missouri.

2. The Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania to Maryland

Great Allegheny Passage | Allegany County, MD

Imagine a trail that takes you from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh, through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and lands you in the serene arms of Cumberland, Maryland. The Great Allegheny Passage does just that over 150 miles of spectacular scenery. It’s a testament to the beauty of the American landscape and the spirit of adventure that lies in bridging states and stories.

3. The Virginia Creeper Trail, Virginia

Abingdon Virginia | The Virginia Creeper Trail

Don’t let the name fool you; the Virginia Creeper Trail is anything but slow. Spanning 34 miles from Abingdon to Whitetop, it offers a thrilling descent for cyclists and a scenic journey for hikers and horseback riders. The trail meanders through lush forests, over historic bridges, and past streams that sing the songs of the Appalachians.

4. The Minuteman Bikeway, Massachusetts

The Minuteman Bikeway (A Revolution on Two Wheels) - Rails to Trails  Conservancy | Rails to Trails Conservancy

Linking the historic towns of Cambridge and Bedford, the Minuteman Bikeway is a 10-mile journey through time. It follows the route Paul Revere took during his famous midnight ride, offering a blend of history, nature, and community. Whether you’re a history buff, a fitness enthusiast, or just someone looking for a pleasant day out, this trail has something for everyone.

5. The Burke-Gilman Trail, Washington

Burke-Gilman Trail at University of Washington – Alta Planning + Design

Seattle’s Burke-Gilman Trail is a testament to urban trails done right. Stretching over 27 miles, it connects vibrant neighborhoods, parks, and beaches, offering stunning views of Lake Washington and the Ship Canal. It’s a favorite among locals for commuting and recreation, proving that the great outdoors can thrive in the heart of the city.

6. The High Line, New York

Above Grade: On the High Line

While not your typical rail trail, The High Line in New York City offers an urban walking experience unlike any other. Elevated above the streets of Manhattan, this 1.45-mile park is a green oasis amidst the concrete jungle. It’s a place where art, nature, and history intersect, providing a peaceful retreat for city dwellers and visitors alike.

7. The Mickelson Trail, South Dakota

George S. Mickelson Trail | Travel South Dakota

The Mickelson Trail winds its way through the heart of the Black Hills, offering more than 100 miles of breathtaking vistas, towering pine forests, and rugged mountain terrain. It’s a paradise for cyclists and hikers seeking solitude and a deep connection with nature. With more than a hundred converted railroad bridges and four rock tunnels, the trail offers a thrilling adventure.

8. The Swamp Rabbit Trail, South Carolina

The Swamp Rabbit Trail: Healthy Economy and Lifestyle – Ecocities Emerging

Greenville’s Swamp Rabbit Trail is a community treasure, stretching 22 miles from the city into the scenic countryside. It’s a haven for cyclists, runners, and families, providing a safe and scenic route for outdoor activities. The trail passes through parks, over bridges, and by local businesses, making it the perfect blend of recreation and urban exploration.


Rail trails offer a unique avenue to explore the diverse landscapes and rich history of the U.S. They’re more than just paths; they’re narratives woven into the fabric of the country, accessible to all who seek adventure, tranquility, or simply a break from the everyday. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a leisurely walker, or an outdoor enthusiast, these 8 rail trails promise journeys filled with beauty, discovery, and the freedom of the open path.


Do I need a special bike for rail trails?

Most rail trails are suitable for standard bikes. However, for longer or more rugged trails, a hybrid or mountain bike might provide more comfort and durability.

Are pets allowed on rail trails?

Many rail trails welcome pets, particularly dogs, as long as they are on a leash. It’s always best to check specific trail regulations before you go.

Can rail trails be accessed year-round?

Most rail trails are open year-round, but conditions can vary with the seasons. Snow and ice in winter can make some trails challenging without proper equipment.

Are there any fees to use the rail trails?

Many rail trails are free to use, though some may request donations for maintenance. Certain trails within state or national parks might have entrance fees.

How do I find rail trails near me?

Websites like the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy ( offer searchable databases of rail trails across the country, complete with maps, descriptions, and user reviews.

Victorine Jardine, a M.Sc. Part 1 student with 3 years of content writing experience, is a specialist in Health (Weight Loss, Fat Burn Food etc.), Astrology and pets topics. With a deep love for animals, Jardine also provides informative content on pet care, behavior, and the bond between humans and their furry companions. Know the enchanting worlds of zodiac signs and pets through Victorine Jardine's engaging writing.

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